Outdoor, Writing

Wisdom Teeth and Draft 2

This weekend was weird. On Friday, I had 3 wisdom teeth removed. I have needed it done for a while and I just couldn’t put it off any longer. The day wasn’t great. I was hungry. My appointment wasn’t until 2 and I couldn’t eat or drink anything. Why doctors think that’s cool to do to people is beyond me! I distracted myself with some writing and cleaning the house.

The procedure itself was pretty easy. I remember them making a comment that the IV went in at 2:30 and then I was awake at 3:10, missing three teeth. Easy and smooth. I was back home before 4. Still a little drugged but at least numb.

Kris took great care of me, making me follow all the rules, despite my protests. Saturday was a lazy day, full of icing my face and eating pudding or jello. Sunday, we went on a Jeep drive to get out of the house. We went through Phantom Canyon, not far from where we live. We stopped at Cripple Creek, attempting to win big at a few casinos. (We didn’t.) We did run into the Cripple Creek donkeys wandering the down the sidewalks.

Driving through the mountains reminded me of the rough story I had waiting for me at home.

I bragged a few weeks ago about having the first draft of my second book complete. Which was true. The first draft is done. But it is the bare bones of a story. I spent a week, reading over and over different parts, adding in one line, deleting another. So, I took some writing advice and put the story away for two weeks and worked on something else.

Today, I printed off the second book and sat down to read it with fresh eyes. Oh man. Was it rough. My characters are weak, my plot if full of holes and the pacing was off.

And I loved ripping it apart! That’s what the first draft is all about right? Getting the idea out. Vomit style. I know what I can add now, what it was missing.

This story is another paranormal ghost story. I based it off an old ghost story I heard while on a class camping trip when I was in the 5th grade. I am ramping up the scare in this one.

I am setting a deadline to have my second draft ready to go off to see the editor at the end of July. I would love to have this book out by Halloween.

Writing

How does it feel to be a Self-Published Author?

My book, The Haunting of Locker 31 came out on Friday. I’m officially a published author. Friends have already read the book and are asking for a sequel. It’s a weird feeling, knowing that something I have dreamed about for so long has finally happened. It is even weirder because I do feel different. But not the way that you might expect.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I wasn’t expecting to feel any sort of change. I figured it would be like a birthday. When you were younger, you would get so excited for the special day. Because when you hit that milestone, 13, 16, 21, you would expect to feel different. There would be something that day that would activate inside you. You would feel that age. But that was never the case. You still felt the same. Which always made me a little sad.

But this time, something did change. I started my third novel, a little adventure away from the others. And I have sat down to write it every day this past week, with no excuses. As I am writing it, I know that it is okay that not everything coming out is perfect. There will be time to edit, to review. But I can’t do any of that until I have it done. I found my confidence!

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

And I am having fun again with my writing. I feel good while I write and even after. I love this feeling. It reminds me of why I even started.

I know that this first novel will not make me rich, successful and famous. I hope to make enough to recoup what it cost me to make. And maybe a little extra to help me with my second novel.

I also have to continue figuring out the marketing game. Which I feel is a never ending battle for everyone.

But the writing stuff. I finally have that figured out. And it only took me publishing a book to get there.

You can buy The Haunting of Locker 31 on Amazon. If you do, please leave a review, letting me know what you think of it!

Writing

Reedsy Review

***I’m not getting anything for writing this review. When I started this process, I found little to help me decide on Reedsy. I feel it is important to share my experience. I cannot be held liable if your experience is not the same.

When I started writing The Haunting of Locker 31 last November, I assumed it would be like most of my writings. I would get it mostly done or have a very rough draft on my hands and then it would sit in storage on my computer forever. I’ve said before that there was a difference this time. Maybe it was maturity, maybe it was my husband always asking me what stage I was at, maybe it was the desire to actually see one of my dreams come to life, I don’t know. But I finished the first draft in January and I spent a few months figuring out the next step.

Obviously, I needed an editor. Kris and I researched, finding a lot of services, for lots of money all over the place. I knew I would have to pay money, but I didn’t want to have to pay that much money. So I looked to some experienced self-published authors for advice and I found myself on Joanna Penn’s website, The Creative Penn. She has an entire section of recommendations. That is where I first heard of Reedsy.

You can hire an editor, a designer, someone in publicity or marketing, someone to translate your book, a ghostwriter or a website designer. Reedsy allows self-publishing authors to connect with freelance professionals.

I could navigate the website easily and found a plethora of editors. I narrowed down the search with a couple clicks in the filter. Part of my problem before Reedsy was not knowing how to solicit the services of an editor. Reedsy made it simple with a form that I filled out. I put my category, a summary of my book, how many words and what sort of services I was looking for. I even put my price range. I could select 5 editors whose profiles I liked and email them all at the same time. They then had so long to respond to me with offers. (It is important to know that Reedsy charges a fee that is included in the agreement/contract between you and the freelance professional you have chosen to work with. Both my fees were around $50. Not horrible.)

I found my editor in two days. She did everything I asked for and more. She was polite; she knew what she was talking about and did not seem to care that I was a first-time author. I hope she and I can work together again.

The process for the cover designer was the same. I had to find several covers of already published books to send to them so they knew what I wanted. Again, I found my cover designer in just a few quick days. And I loved working with her. (Not going to lie, her covers to stood out as some of the best, but she introduced herself as a fellow coffee addict so I knew it was meant to be.)

It is recommended by Reedsy that you keep all communication within their system. I imagine that if you form a contract with someone, Reedsy will then be able to help if something were to happen with your professional. This did not happen to me, so I can’t speak to that personally. I can say that one reason I went with both my ladies was because they would not charge me full price upfront. We agreed on so much up front and then the rest when they completed the product. I would recommend that you do the same if you set up a contract with anyone. Reedsy has page about project protection.

The coolest part about this was that both my editor and cover designer are in England. Which isn’t surprising since Reedsy is a British company. .If you are more comfortable working with someone in America or wherever you are from, you could probably find them. I did not feel that I needed to do that. Personal choice.

Another impressive feature of Reedsy is their book formatting tool. You have the option to write your novel directly on there. Or, I copied and pasted each chapter in. I was able to format my book for both ebook and paperback this way. And it was free! I follow a couple Facebook Writer Groups and people are always looking for someone to do that for them. Why pay someone when you can just do it yourself?

I mentioned this in a previous post that I have submitted my book to Reedsy Discovery. This program is $50 and I will receive a review. The book may appear in a newsletter that is sent out to Reedsy Discovery subscribers. At the time of this post, I have not received my review or seen what the effects of going through this process is. So I am not willing to give my opinion on it yet.

Reedsy has some other cool features, like a blog with helpful tips, free courses and a YouTube Channel. All designed to help you be successful. In their FAQ section, they break down the various services you might look for. This was helpful when I started the process. I wasn’t sure what sort of editing I needed. (I needed all the editing.)

Overall, I would recommend Reedsy to the self-publisher. Everything is there for you and it is easy to manage. I found amazing people to work with. I hope you do too!

Writing

Head shots and a Ghost story

With less than a month until The Haunting of Locker 31 is officially on the market, I have invested a great deal of time in setting up various author profile pages. I have a Facebook Page, a Goodreads page, Amazon Author page, a Reedsy Discovery page, and this blog.

I needed a head shot to go on these pages. Luckily for me, my husband of endless hobbies is an amateur photographer and agreed to take my picture.

At the edge of our community, there is an old graveyard. The rumors of this graveyard being haunted have been around forever. In 1971 they had to move this graveyard to build the reservoir. And if you know anything about what caused unrest in poor ghost souls, one of the many claims is the moving of a body.

Honestly, this is probably a better spot to be stuck in if you are going to be stuck anywhere forever. To the east, you see nothing but lake and the south and west is beautiful mountain range and trees from the river. This made it a great place to get a few pictures.

I grew up hearing all sorts of ghost stories about the old cemetery. It was the brave thing to do to sneak into the graveyard at night. Which, of course, was against the rules.

We set right to business, taking a bunch of pictures from different spots. Kris made sure to avoid having headstones with visible names in the picture. I fixed a few decorations that had fallen over in the wind and we did our best to pay our respect.

Some of the sites are from the 1800s. There was one that I can’t get my mind off of.

Unknown woman.

She died in the 1800s.

One story you hear about the ghosts of this graveyard is a woman in all white walking around and crying. Is that her? Is she crying because no one knows who she is? I wonder what happened to her. How old was she? Why did no one know who she was? From what I know of this town that no longer exists, they all knew each other. So for a woman to just appear and somehow die… that just seems so odd to me. Or did they just find her somewhere?

The day was clear and sunny, a slight breeze blowing in from the East. I stood still, waiting and listening to see if I heard the woman in white while Kris played with the camera. She didn’t speak to me while we were there.

I told Kris that there could be a story from that gravesite. And I’ve been mulling it over in my head ever since. It’s even made it into my book. Unknown woman. Grave site.

I asked Kris if we could go back one night and look for the ghost. He said no. Mostly because the sign says the place is closed at dark. But also, he doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Yet.

Writing

Cover Reveal!

I have reached the point of no return. I have submitted my manuscript to the reviewers. I’ve uploaded and created my eBook and paperback to Amazon. I began recording the audiobook.

The release date for The Haunting of Locker 31 is July 3rd.

I am so nervous and excited all at the same time.

Below is my beautiful cover. Designed by Miss Nat Mack.

So far in my self publishing journey, I have learned 3 very important things.

1: Writing the story is the easy part. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

2: Hire an editor. (And your mom/dad/friend/partner does not count. Get a pro)

3: Hire a cover designer.

Looking back over the last several months, I probably would have told you that a cover designer was not needed. But look at that cover! I could never have done that and I’ve seen plenty of the Amazon self design covers to know I would never have come close to creating that.

I hired my editor and cover designer on Reedsy.com. The experience was painless and I could find reliable professionals for a fair price. I didn’t have to buy anything more than I wanted. If you haven’t already, I would check them out.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

I will be happy if some people read it and enjoy it. I would be thrilled if they then buy my next book.

If you are interested, you can pre-order the eBook at here. If you want to know more about my Reedsy experience, stay tuned for next week’s post.

Writing

Reviews! How am I going to get them?

Ah marketing. We meet again.

person holding white and brown newspaper
Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

Over the past few weeks, I have turned my attention back to marketing. I realize that there is no actual way of knowing what will work until I do it. While on Reedsy, I found they have a program called Discovery. You can pay to have a reviewer give you a review. Then, if they like it, it will be included in their newsletter for readers. You can have it up-voted and other things that I don’t really understand right now.

I figured for $50, I could try it. The website told me to set my launch date for 5 weeks from submission. Giving the reviewers time to review, and for it to appear in their newsletter. When you submit, they ask you to upload your cover, your first chapter and then the rest of the novel for the reviewer to read if it is selected. Throughout the process, the website reminds you that this is a gamble, someone may not want to read your book.

 

I submitted my book last Tuesday. I was excited, but I expected that a nobody like me would get a reviewer quickly. If at all.

A reviewer had selected to read it the next morning. Less than 24 hours. I squealed and jumped up and down like a child. Maggie was less than impressed, but Asta celebrated with me.

photo of a woman holding an ipad
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I haven’t heard back yet. But that’s okay. But my beautiful cover did its job. It caught someone’s eye. My first chapter must have been intriguing enough to make someone wants to keep reading.

My second option for reviews was on a website called Reader’s Favorite. (I keep typing in Reader’s Choice. Not the same thing.) Their process was similar. You have more options here though. There was a free option but it could take up to 3 months. Then you could pay $59 for a review in two weeks, and the prices go up from there for up to 5 reviews. This website also has an email list that you can sign up for to get book recommendations.

I elected to do the free one to try it out. Perhaps for the next novel, I will do the paid. I just uploaded it and have not heard a word.

How many of you let reviews influence your choice in your reading? What I like to read is drastically different from other people. Most of my friends can’t get enough of the Outlander series. I had to put it down. Not my type of story. Most of my friends think I am insane because I love to reread The Shining every year around Halloween.

I don’t look at the reviews. I mean, in the store, you can’t. And on Amazon, I have Kindle Unlimited. I have the luxury of picking up and book and returning it half finished it I didn’t like it.

But since learning about the importance of reviews, I have been leaving mine on the books I read. I just recently left my first critical review. An example of why it is hard for us self-publishers to be taken seriously.

I’ll update once I hear back on my reviews. Until then, be kind. Leave your last read a review. They will love you for it. 

Writing

Taglines and back cover

Tag lines are seriously the hardest thing to write. I’ve spent the last three hours looking at tag lines of all my books on my bookshelf. Maybe a third of them didn’t even have a tagline. Many of them had a snippet of a review. I’m an unknown. I don’t have the luxury of a reviewer yet. (I have been looking into this thing on Reedsy that might help with that!) I also looked at taglines on Amazon, focusing specifically on young adult novels.

You need this tagline to be intriguing without giving too much away. You need it to be short, direct but still making sense. Oh sure, that will be easy.

This is what I noticed about taglines, those that had them anyway. They were short, direct and often a question. “What if…” statements were popular. They were successful though, I have added many to my to-be- read list.

I have come up with two and am mulling them over. (Also known as waiting for Kris to get home from work so I can ask his opinion. And sending out a couple texts to people who have read it to see what they think.)

The back cover summary is the next step to selling my book. That was pretty easy to compose this weekend. It helps that I’ve had to do my “elevator speech” to everyone who’s asked about it since I started writing it. Here is it.

“’There are some weird stories about that locker. They rarely let kids have it.’

After her mother commits a terrible crime, Misti is sent to live with her estranged Aunt and Uncle. Welcomed with open arms, Misti finds herself in a safe place for the first time since she can remember. She struggles to navigate life around her cousin, Penny, new friends and the handsome boy in her art class. On top of all of this, they assign Misti Locker 31, the haunted locker. Misti dismisses the stories. Ghosts aren’t real. 

When her things are arranged for her classes, Misti suspects she is being pranked. When her lock is spinning, she blames lack of sleep.

When a 20-year-old diary appears not only giving life to the odd occurrences at the locker but brings them to her home, she runs out of explanations. With the help of her friends, Misti sets out to solve The Haunting of Locker 31.” 

I’m nervous. The cover is outstanding, just needs a tagline. A tag line seems to be just as important as the cover being pretty. Then the back cover needs to sell the rest. Once they start to read, I am confident that they will keep reading. It is just to get them to do that initial purchase.

What is that cliche of a saying? The devil is in the details? 

Writing

Audio book struggles are real! (Or maybe just imagined.)

Has anyone every recorded or considering recording one of their books? In all the posts/books/videos I watch, the “experts” recommend recording an audio book to increase your sales. I want to increase my sales when I publish. Which is very, very soon.

Last night, I started recording my book. I am happy to report that it has gone through professional editing and is in the hands of my final betareaders. I have gotten some very positive feedback and am very excited to publish soon.

My cover design is done, and I am so pleased. I could never in a million years have come up with or executed what my cover designer did. She is amazing.

Back to the original idea for this post. Recording the audiobook as been a mix of frustrating and fun. Kris built a tiny sound room down in the basement we sound proofed with cheap fabric and foam pieces. Inside it is so quiet! Perfect for recording.

I would prefer to record in the morning. I am more alert and able to speak for longer periods without stumbling over simple words like the or terminal. The problem? These three. 

Adorable as they are, they are the worst coworkers.

They have become especially attached to me since I’ve been stuck at home since March 13th. Yes, I’ve gone out for groceries and some outside activities like walking or biking. But 98 percent of the time, I’m at home with them. And they want to be in the same room as me. Right now, they are all in here, napping.

In the mornings though, they all come downstairs and the second I close myself into the little room, it is like I have disappeared and all three spend the entire time I am in the room attempting to break in. If I didn’t want kids before, these last few months with my 3 fur children have solidified that kids are a no go for me. Mama needs her space.

Kris locked the animals away in our room with him when he got home and I could record the first three chapters last night. The goal is to keep it up until it is completely recorded. Editing has been surprisingly easy. I watched a few YouTube videos that offered suggestions on what to do and found this one that really helped me. If you are considering narrating audio books at all, I would suggest her videos. They are so helpful! Become an Audiobook Narrator.

I am hoping to launch my book at the end of this month. My family has mostly finished reading and given me some outstanding feedback for last-minute changes. Just have to finish this audiobook…does someone want to borrow three adorable, not annoying at all, animals for a few weeks? 

Writing

Writing during Quarantine and struggling.

When we were originally told about this quarantine, my first thought was “I will get so much writing done!” (I was very concerned about the world. I am not heartless. I saw this as a silver lining.)

So far, this has been a miserable fail.

Granted, I am very worried about my husband who is considered an “essential” employee and still has to go out and work everyday. (Stop ordering things online. DO you really need that makeup box or those shoes? Someone still has to risk their health to bring it to you.) I’ve also been attempting to figure out how to do my job remotely.

I have struggled. With writing, with maintaining this blog. With not eating all the snacks in my pantry.

I am a person of structure. I really like having a routine and sticking to that routine.

I liked that I could get up at 5, work out, get ready for work and be in my classroom but 7:10 every morning. I liked knowing I would be home by 4. I knew I had that time to write, eat, play with my dogs, spend time with my husband. I liked climbing into bed at 9, reading or watching a little TV before falling asleep.

The structure has been taken from me. I have the freedom to do whatever I want. I should be thrilled.

Somehow, this makes it worse.

I found that I struggle to workout and write in the same days. I write with ease on the days I write first but then I don’t want to work out. On days I work out, once I shower, I struggle to find words. My normal 1500 words in an hour is done in two. I also upped my word count since I have all day to work on it. I rarely hit that 3000 goal.

I tried making audiobooks as a way to be involved in the industry and maybe make a little extra money right now. The three animals are against the being quiet and letting mom work in peace. For some reason, they will nap all day while I am working on my laptop or on my desktop in the office. But the second I go down to the makeshift recording studio we have, they all want inside the little room. Then they want to wrestle and bark and meow. Not really good for recording audio.

Exhausted after a morning of harrassment

I am throwing myself back into the writing. I read over my current work in progress, editing and adding in missing details. I know what i want to change and how I want to continue.

Is anyone else struggling to maintain structure? Is it just me that is not taking advantage of all this time that has been given to me? In my defense, Friends is on from 8 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon.

Would writing out my schedule help? If I force myself to workout first, then write, then lunch, would that help?

I don’t know what the answer is. But, I want to be successful at this writing for a living thing and I’ve been given the opportunity to figure it out. I need stop watching Friends and do this. Only I can make my future happen.

Writing

Book Cover?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a saver. I dislike to spend money and when I have to purchase something rather expensive, like a new dryer or a car, I spend MONTHS researching before I commit. Even then, I regret my decision. I started this writing journey over a year ago. I think if I had been more serious at the start, I would have stopped myself from doing it because it is so expensive. Editing, formatting, marketing, book cover design. Everything has a large price tag on it. 


I’ve had to change my perspective a bit. I look at this whole writing/publishing thing as an investment in myself. I have not has a problem investing my time in the writing. I might as well invest the money to wrap my writing with a pretty cover. Because we all judge books based on the cover. My target audience will pick up my book if the cover is creepy enough. I am one of those people. If the covers scream horror, it will be in my hands. 


I had to research. I’m sure you are all sick of me talking about the research. All the self-publishing bloggers, mailers, Youtubers of the world say the same thing. Invest in a good cover. You will probably have a killer story with amazing character and wonderful prose. But no one will pick it up if it looks like a small child drew the cover for you. But, like you maybe, I did not want to spend the money. Kris convinced me it would be okay. 


I found my cover designer the same way I found my editor on Reedsy. I will give a more detailed report on the Reedsy experience once I have complete both services. My book is still with the editor.


Finding a cover designer was a little more challenging than finding an editor. I spent days looking over people’s profiles, adding them to the maybe list. I reached out to four designers, heard from all of them, and could make a choice I was happy with. 


If you are in this process and are interested, Reedsy has easy to fill in forms for you to fill out. For the editor, it asks for a synopsis of your book, the characters, etc. You even upload a small sample of your work. One reason I went with my editor was because she offered to sample edit the selection for me so I could preview her work. None of the others did that. The form for the book cover designer is very similar. For this form, it will ask you to upload several covers of published novels that you like or kind of reflect what you want. I went to the bookstore, and I found several online. I’m excited to see what comes of the cover. 

If you are toying with the idea of saving money and not working with a cover designer, I would have to say don’t. Kris tried, but he just couldn’t get it to line up and do what a cover needs to do. 


Excited for my cover. Excited to get my book back edited soon. Just playing the waiting game now. 

Patience is not my strong suit.